The restoration of natural fire to wilderness ecosystems poses a significant challenge to the federal land management agencies. The U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service have conducted progressive prescribed natural fire (PNF) programs for more than two decades. The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management has only recently approved the use of PNF in a few wilderness areas, whereas the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service has relied primarily on the use of management-ignited fires to accomplish wilderness objectives. Despite recognition of the role of natural fire, suppression continues to play a dominant role in wilderness fire policy for all four wilderness management agencies. Ways must be found to substantially increase the acreage burned through prescribed fire in wilderness.Unfortunately, differences in program approaches and criteria for reporting the occurrence of prescribed natural fire and management-ignited fire in wilderness units managed by the four agencies make it extremely difficult to fully assess accomplishments of wilderness fire management programs. There is an urgent need to improve reporting as well as develop criteria and standards by which to judge the success of wilderness fire programs. © 1998, Tall Timbers Research, Inc. Abstract reproduced by permission.